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Greek Police Arrest Terror Suspect

February 5, 2003

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Police arrested a 64-year-old civil engineer Tuesday on charges of participating in a violent far-left terrorist group that eluded Greek authorities for three decades.

Christos Tsigaridas is suspected of being the last leader of Revolutionary Popular Struggle, a group also known as ELA.

It was the latest arrest in a seven-month police crackdown _ assisted by Britain and the United States _ against shadowy terrorist groups before Greece hosts the 2004 Olympic Games.

Tsigaridas, suffering from lung cancer, was arrested at his home in the wealthy Athens suburb of Psychiko, and told authorities that he had been in the group.

``Mr. Tsigaridas admitted his participation for a certain amount of time, until 1991,″ his lawyer Stamatis Kambanis said. ``He claims political responsibility for his participation for the period he was active.″

ELA is blamed for killing two Greek police officers and carrying out more than 100 bombings since 1975.

They attacked a wide range of American targets, including U.S. companies, military facilities and the residence of the U.S. ambassador.

Tsigaridas was the fourth ELA suspect arrested this week. The other three have denied any involvement; one suspect publicly accused his ex-wife of lying to the police.

Authorities believe ELA was closely tied to the deadlier Greek terrorist group, November 17, which was broken up last year.

Both organizations were included on the state Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. November 17 is blamed for 23 murders and scores of bomb and rocket attacks.

Its victims included diplomats and military officials from Britain, Turkey and the United States.

Nineteen people arrested as suspected members of November 17 will go on trial next month.

The group is named after the day of a bloody 1973 student revolt that helped topple a military dictatorship _ widely seen by Greeks as American-backed _ the following year.

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